The results are in! In the fall of 2023, we set out to understand which topics resonated most with CWC’s donor community, and how donors like you prefer to stay connected to CWC’s work. What we heard is that you enjoy reading the CWC newsletter to stay up to date, and overall you’re most interested in hearing about ecology and restoration, the latest happenings at the Riverwalk, and youth programs. You shared kind words about CWC’s work and great ideas for what’s possible at the lower San Lorenzo River. In the year ahead, CWC will put this feedback into practice by:
- Sharing more regular updates with you in CWC’s email newsletter – you can count on news from our programs and happenings at the river once a month.
- Continuing to build relationships with local media and sharing our stories through your favorite news outlets. Check out these recent articles from the Sana Cruz Sentinel on the 2024 climate resiliency measure and CWC’s artists in residence.
- Reducing postal mail, and
- Continuing to invite you to join CWC staff in person at the river.
We sent the survey to everyone who has donated to CWC since July 2019, and received a total of 50 replies! This incredible response represents roughly a quarter of our regular supporters, and we are so thankful to everyone who took the time to weigh in with their thoughts and preferences. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve learned from our community of supporters.
One of our key questions asked which communication channels people prefer for staying connected to CWC’s work. Email newsletters were at the top of the list – which is not surprising because we used email share the survey. Next came a tie between “Interactions with CWC staff (walks, tours, meetings, etc.)” and “Through News Media (Santa Cruz Sentinel, GoodTimes, etc.).” Write in responses shown in the graph above included “I like all of the above but my favorite is through face-to-face interactions,” and “‘Citizen Science’ of a serious nature.” We plan to keep our newsletters coming monthly, with periodic updates in between, and are brainstorming ways to increase in-person interactions. For those of you keen to see news coverage about CWC, we have recently updated the news mentions page on our website.
When it comes to which topics related to the San Lorenzo River our supporters find most important, habitat restoration was a clear leader (84%), followed by wildlife and natural history (68%), action updates (64%) and environmental education (64%). These responses reflect the popularity of the plant profiles featured on our blog, as well as the amazing turnout we saw to our 2022 call-to-action around vegetation management on the river levees, for which we are very thankful. We are looking forward to bringing you more program updates from our habitat restoration and environmental education activities going forward.
Write-in responses on additional topics of interest shown in the graph above included:
- Work with city etc. to improve public safety/camping issues
- River-facing apartment/hotel development on Front Street
- Public funding streams for river-related work
We also asked for other suggestions on how we could help supporters feel more connected to CWC’s activities. In addition to many kudos to “keep up the good work,” we received some thoughtful ideas such as these:
- More community events on the river and levee
- More use of video to show what’s happening as much as telling. Hearing from program staff, kids who participate in programs, and volunteers.
- More donor events with educational and environmental updates from the experts.
- More frequent communication via email/newsletter on what’s going on
- Community party/celebration days that aren’t necessarily volunteering or manual labor
- Stronger social media presence
The survey was also a chance for us to ask donors why they give to CWC. We want to make sure you can clearly see the impact that your contributions make through CWC’s work, and we were heartened to see responses such as these:
- Because they connect people and nature, because they care about the San Lorenzo River, its nature, and its neighbors.
- I believe watershed quality and restoration is very important both in our community and globally
- I support programs for youth education for the environment locally. Having educators working with our overworked teachers adds focused knowledge and curriculum in an area with too little focus in our schools.
- Beyond protecting the habitat, I’m excited about the possibilities about turning the river walk from a place of disuse to a safe, beautiful place where people gather, ride bikes, walk, etc.
- To support community-based advocacy, volunteer work & collaboration on health of the river
- Supporting stewardship of a most-critical resource; investing in educating young people to continue that stewardship.
Donors are key for helping CWC achieve our mission to protect coastal watersheds, including revitalizing the San Lorenzo River. We are humbled by the community support for our year-end giving campaign, which included raising the most money of any organization through Santa Cruz Gives! We are also so grateful that 60% of our recent donors have renewed your contributions to CWC in 2023, helping us exceed our goal for donor retention. Thank you to all of you who play a key role in supporting our work, and to all who shared your thoughts with us through the survey. Our take-home message from the survey is to try to implement more communication and interaction with donors overall, and we will be considering your ideas as we plan our communication activities for the new year and beyond. We hope you’ll feel up to date and connected with the work you make possible through your support!
Want to share other ideas on this topic? Reach out to Communications Manager Erin Loury with your thoughts! You can also see the past results of CWC’s 2021 Donor Survey And it’s not too late to renew your support for CWC, or join our community of donors for the first time by donating today!